A neonatal nurse at a British hospital was found guilty Friday of killing seven babies and the attempted murder of six others.
Lucy Letby, 33, was charged with the murder of five babies and two girls, and the attempted murder of five boys and five girls when she worked at the Countess Hospital of Chester in northwest England between 2015 and 2016.
She was accused of intentionally harming newborn babies in various ways, including by injecting air into their bloodstream and introducing air or milk into their stomachs through nasogastric tubes.
It has also been accused of poisoning children by adding insulin to IV feeds and interfering with their breathing tubes.
Litby denied all charges.
A jury of seven women and four men deliberated for 22 days before reaching a verdict. One juror was excused well into deliberation for personal reasons, and the judge later gave the 11 remaining jurors the option of reaching a verdict with 10 people by agreement rather than a unanimous decision.
Litby was found not guilty on one count of attempted murder and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on several others.
During the drawn-out trial, which began last October, prosecutors said the hospital in 2015 saw a spike in the number of children dying or experiencing sudden deterioration in their health for no apparent reason. Some suffered “serious catastrophic collapses” but survived with the help of medical staff.
They claimed that Litby was on duty in all cases and described her as a “permanent malignant presence” in the neonatal unit when babies collapsed or died. They said the nurse abused the children in ways that didn’t leave much of an impact, and that she had convinced colleagues that meltdowns and deaths were normal.
The first child Letby targeted was allegedly a boy who was born prematurely and died when he was just a day old, in June 2015. Prosecutors alleged that a nurse injected air into his bloodstream.
Police launched an investigation into the deaths of children at the hospital in May 2017. Letby was arrested three times in connection with the deaths before being charged in November 2020.
Prosecutors said a Post-It note found at Letby’s home after her arrest in 2018 writing “I’m evil, I did this” was a “verbatim confession.”
Her defense attorney said she was a “hardworking, dedicated and caring” nurse who loved her job and that there was insufficient evidence that she did any of the alleged harmful acts.
The lawyer said that sudden collapses and deaths of infants could have been caused by natural causes, or in combination with other factors such as a shortage of staff at the hospital or the failure of others to provide adequate care.
He also alleged that four senior physicians blamed Litby for covering up failures in the neonatal unit.
Litby testified for 14 days, denying all accusations that she had intentionally abused any child.
“I did my best to take care of them,” she testified. “I’m there to take care of you so I don’t get hurt.”
She cried at times and defended the stack of medical records she kept at home for some of the children in her care.
“I do not deserve to live,” she wrote in a green sticky note that appears in court. “I killed them on purpose because I’m not good enough to take care of them.”
“I am a horribly evil person,” she wrote. “I evil did this.”
Her lawyer defended the memoirs as the haunting writings of a woman who lost confidence in herself and blamed herself for what happened on the ward.
“There is one note that says ‘not good enough,’” defense attorney Ben Myers said. “Who did you write that for? You did not write that to us, or to the police, or to these procedures. This is a note to itself. Writing about itself.
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